As fun as it was to try catching our own dinner from the beach of Pacific Palms, as beach worms squirmed underneath the sand beneath our feet, we just were not having much luck. It was time to leave the food catching and preparation to the experts. We were heading to Port Macquarie.
Port, as it is affectionately known, has recently made its name as a foodie destination. Local farmers sell their homegrown produce at the Sunday markets, held on the second and fourth Sunday morning of each month. The markets have become renowned in the region due to the high-quality standards of the local produce. But you don’t need to carefully plan your time table, or get up early in the morning to enjoy the fresh fare on offer in Port Macquarie. All you need to do is head to one of the great new restaurants in the centre of town who pride themselves on sourcing the freshest and finest of local ingredients.
We met with local restaurateur Todd Richardson, who recently opened LV’s on Clarence in Port Macquarie. Todd takes great care in sourcing only the best and freshest local and organic ingredients, making a point of not only providing a distinctive dining experience, but also supporting local farmers and businesses. Todd is also a big supporter of doing as much as he can in house and by hand. He makes his own sour dough bread and carefully tends the culture which provides his yeast. He also prepares his own cakes and pastries, as well as making his own fresh iced tea daily from locally source tea producers. But Todd’s DIY attitude is not limited to tea time fare. He also smokes his own salmon in house, as well as locally reared duck. The duck in particular is worth a mention, as Todd smokes it using the locally sourced, chemically free earl grey tea, which he also serves up iced as well.
Coffee-lovers will appreciate the Paul Bassett espresso used at LV’s, an espresso blend produced by Australian Pau Bassett, who won the 2003 World Barista Championships. Apparently Paul Bassett takes his coffee very seriously, and barristas that use his beans have to be trained to the highest of standards. Trained undercover coffee testers are routinely sent around to LV’s and other establishments that use these premium beans, to make sure the coffee is being made correctly.
If you are visiting later in the evening, beer-lovers won’t want to miss the Black Duck craft beers, produced just south of Port Macquarie in Herron’s Creek. LV’s currently serves four of their locally-produced beers: the Proper Bitter, Golden Goose American Pale Ale, Dark Ale, and Indian Runner India Pale Ale. I can personally vouch for the quality of all four – of course I only had the smallest of tastes though. Once this baby is born though – I will have to go back for … ummm…. more extensive research.
Port Macquarie is well situated boasting both a beach and a river. Apparently it is a good spot for surfing, although I can’t personally vouch for that. The river however, is a different story. There are plenty of river cruise companies operating on the Hastings river, and dolphin-spotting is almost guaranteed. We met two of the local pod’s members as they swam along in front of our boat. Whale watching tours are available seasonally from Port Macquarie as well; the best time to spot these creatures is between mid-May and mid-November.
Now you are probably wondering; “But Jade, how much did all this cost? Don’t you normally write about budget travel?” Well to you my friend, I will respond that it is possible to explore all these aspects of Port Macquarie for under $150. A few weeks ago I wrote about my ultra comfortable experience sleeping in the Oz tent, which is the same tent we used to stay at the Sundowner Breakwall holiday park in Port Macquarie. The best part is, the Breakwall holiday park is located smack dab in the middle of town – making it an easy walking distance from all the great things mentioned in today’s post. It only cost us $25 per person to camp at Sundowner Breakwall. For those who are still not convinced by “glamping” or even by regular camping, Breakwall also had budget accommodation for backpackers as well as free pick up and drop off to the Greyhound depot. And of course, they also boast cabins for those who desire a bit more comfort and privacy.
Our river cruise on the Port Venture only cost us $20, and eating at LV’s is very reasonably priced, especially if you visit for breakfast or lunch. But hey, all that money saved by camping means you can splurge on a nice dinner, complimented with some local beer, right?